Melancholy can bring an air of sharpness to the world around you; an extra strong mint for the eyes. The fading snow that lies on the ground brings such a feeling. Whilst cold settles around the eyes, making lids and lashes tingle, the snow creates microcosms of canyons and crevices where the ground and grass push through. The snowy residue inverts and highlights the contours of the ground and frames the day with a distinct line of ground.
The warmth of the coach begins to thaw the face as I sit here, but there is a second on alighting when my view is pointed, the cold on my eyes bearing down on my surroundings, while my brain is woken by the warmth that still bares the freshness of the outside.
Today I see the incongruity I love in landscape and terrace; the potter-pattering of nature that lifts the everyday through contrast and disguise. My paintings of landscape look for the oddness of beauty: modern architecture on the face of a storm; a Cathedral's haunting presence; a dual carriageway at sunset and flowers in the dark. Nature is beautiful I know, but life is more complex than that - for every dramatic landscape there is the hardship of day-to-day life; for every slick city there are those who are downtrodden - and more, within lives of toil there are moments of joy.
Landscape can be dominated by the weather (much like we are at the present), and painters I think of: Turner, Constable, Ceazanne and Monet, all knew how light would change the scene. Some worked quickly and in the scene, others sketched then worked up later, but all acknowledged how quickly things could change. Today we work in different mediums and with a more graphic sensibility, but still we look for a moment that can tell us more than a snapshot, for a moment that tells us how we engage with this great force that surrounds us and has the capacity to take away what we know overnight. So the dullness of an English winter over graffiti on a wall - the clouds broody and resentful; a lamplight shimmering over the river as dusk falls and cranes bob for apples behind; a sheep munching at a crisp packet; snow fading to a puddle in a second of sunbright sunlight; these are moments that make us feel lifted and small, safe and disconcerted.
These are our surroundings and we should get to know them.